Who Designs the Metaverse?

As the metaverse industry grows, the need for programmers and developers increases. Companies are looking to develop virtual games or experiences on multiple metaverse platforms and need coding experts to do the job. There are many different coding languages used to build the metaverse, allowing a bigger talent pool for companies to hire from. With different devices to code for, from laptops to virtual reality (VR) headsets, the opportunities to create metaverse experiences seem virtually endless. As many coders are also video gamers or VR users, the transition from coding to designing a metaverse doesn’t seem that surprising. 

Many metaverse companies use a combination of coding languages and development tools, called Software Development Kits (SDKs), to create their products. For Ready Player Me and their parent company Wolf3D, they use a customized software cocktail to create custom avatars for their users. “We have a passionate team of developers working with web 3D technologies, Unity, Unreal Engine, and mobile operating systems,” explained Marketing Manager, Daniel Marcinkowski. “They work on our web platform as well as game engine SDKs that then third-party developers can use to integrate our avatar system into their apps and games.” This code allows Ready Player Me avatars to be applied in over 760 apps, letting users keep their unique look via customized avatars. 

One of the most popular software development tools is Unity, which Ready Player Me uses. Unity is a gaming platform that allows metaverse companies to easily design, build, and launch games. Unity, in turn, is run on C#, a computer programming language invented in 2000 by Microsoft. Unity’s popularity makes it an obvious choice for metaverse technology, and it has grown to over 750,000 developers, ranging from big names to hobbyists.

The other main gaming engine used by metaverse companies is Unreal. With over 7,500,000 developers (according to Unreal’s CEO Tim Sweeney), it is a recommended choice for building metaverse apps. Unreal runs on the computer language C++, which is similar to C#, so many developers use both Unity and Unreal to build virtual environments.

Products like Unreal can be somewhat expensive, limiting the individuals who are able to design and code metaverse technologies. In response, other companies are working to make metaverse technology more accessible. This has created The Open Metaverse OS, an ever-evolving collection of compatible technology that will be more affordable and open to a greater public. While this Open Metaverse seems like a good idea, there are many questions that arise, such as which framework this would use. As the metaverse continues to trend, more questions of accessibility and affordability will no doubt pop up. Allowing more individuals to design and code metaverse technology makes the technology more diverse and inclusive for all individuals, encouraging more users. 

Packages like Unity and Unreal give more opportunities for developers to practice new skills as well as design creative metaverse spaces. These packages also help make metaverse technology more standardized and better connected with other technology. These are two important aspects that companies are looking for when developing metaverse apps. With apps being standardized and better connected, users can easily move from one app to another. For Ready Player Me, a more standardized code allows for more partnerships. According to Marcinkowski: “We have over 700 partner companies who are integrating our avatars into their apps and games. A year ago, we worked with just 22 companies. The metaverse is definitely happening and there are a lot of people who want to take part in shaping it.”

Photo Courtesy of Freepik.com

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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